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Angelfall, Page 2

Susan Ee

Page 2


  I push faster, zigzagging from car to car. Behind me, Mom’s breathing gets heavier and more labored. Paige is so silent, I half suspect she’s holding her breath.

  Something white floats gently down and lands on Paige. She picks it up and turns to show me. All the blood drains from her face and her eyes are enormous.

  It’s a fluffy piece of down. A snowy feather. The kind that might work its way out of a goose down comforter, only a little larger.

  The blood drains out of my face too.

  What are the chances?

  They mostly target the major cities. Silicon Valley is just a plain strip of low-storied offices and suburbs between San Francisco and San Jose. San Francisco’s already been hit, so if they were going to attack anything in this area, it’d be San Jose, not the valley. It’s just some bird flying by, that’s all. That’s all.

  But I’m already panting with panic.

  I force myself to look up. All I see is endless dark sky.

  But then, I do see something. Another, larger feather floats down lazily toward my head.

  Sweat prickles my brow. I break out into an all-out sprint.

  Mom’s cart rattles crazily behind me as she desperately follows. She doesn’t need explanations or encouragement to run. I’m scared one of us will fall, or Paige’s chair will tip, but I can’t stop. We have to find a place to hide. Now, now, now.

  The hybrid car I was aiming for suddenly crumples under the weight of something crashing down on it. The thunder of the crash almost makes me jump out of my boots. Luckily, it covers Mom’s scream.

  I catch a flash of tawny limbs and snowy wings.

  An angel.

  I have to blink to make sure it’s real.

  I’ve never seen an angel before, not live anyway. Of course, we’ve all seen the looping footage of golden-winged Gabriel, Messenger of God, being gunned down from the pile of rubble that was Jerusalem. But watching TV, you could always tell yourself it wasn’t real, even if it was on every news program for days.

  But there’s no denying that this is the real deal. Men with wings. Angels of the Apocalypse. Supernatural beings who’ve pulverized the modern world and killed millions, maybe even billions of people.

  And here’s one of the horrors, right in front of me.


  I almost tip Paige in my rush to spin around and change direction. We skid to a halt behind a parked moving van. I peek out from behind it, unable to stop watching.

  Five more angels swoop down on the one with the snowy wings. Judging by their aggressive stance, it’s a fight of five against one. It’s too dark to see any details on the landing angels but there’s something about the shape of the wings of one of them that strikes me as different. Their wings fold too fast when they land for me to take a good look and I’m left wondering if there actually was anything different about that one. He’s a giant, towering over the rest.

  We hunker down and my muscles freeze, refusing to move from the relative safety behind the truck tire. So far, they don’t seem to notice us.

  A light suddenly flickers and turns on above the crushed hybrid. The electricity has come back on and this street lamp is one of the few that hasn’t yet been broken. The lone pool of light looks over-bright and eerie, highlighting contrasts more than illuminating. A few empty windows light up along the street as well, giving enough light to show me the angels a little better.

  They have different colored wings. The one who smashed into the car has snowy white wings. The giant has wings the color of night. The others are blue, green, burnt orange and tiger-striped.

  They’re all shirtless, their muscled forms flexing with every movement. Like their wings, their skin tones vary. The snowy-winged angel that crushed the car has light caramel skin. The night-winged one has skin as pale as an egg. The rest range from gold to dark brown. These angels look like the type to be heavily scarred by battle wounds but instead, have the kind of perfectly unmarred skin prom queens around the country would kill their prom kings for.

  The snowy angel rolls painfully off the crushed car. Despite his injuries, he lands in a half crouch, ready for an attack. His athletic grace reminds me of a puma I once saw on TV.

  I can tell he’s a formidable opponent by the way the others warily approach him even though he is injured and far outnumbered. Although the others are muscular, they look brutish and clumsy compared to him. He has the body of an Olympic swimmer, taut and muscled. He looks ready to fight them barehanded even though almost all his enemies are armed with swords.

  His sword lies a few feet from the car where it landed during his fall. Like the other angel swords, it is short with two feet of throat-slitting, double-edged blade.

  He sees it and shifts to lunge for it. But Burnt Angel kicks the sword. It spins lazily across the asphalt away from its owner, but the distance it moves is surprisingly short. It must be as heavy as lead. It is still far enough away, though, to ensure that Snowy Wings doesn’t have a prayer of reaching it.

  I settle in to watch the angel execution. There’s no question of the outcome. Still, Snow puts up a good fight. He kicks the tiger striped one and manages to hold his own against two others. But he is no match for all five of them together.

  When four of them finally manage to pin him down on the ground, practically sitting on him, Night Giant walks up to him. He stalks like the Angel of Death, which I suppose he could be. I get the distinct impression that this is the culmination of several battles between them. I sense history between them in the way they look at each other, in the way Night yanks at Snow’s wing, spreading it out. He nods at Stripes, who lifts his sword above Snow.

  I want to close my eyes against the final blow but I can’t. My eyes stay glued open, forgetting how to close.

  “You should have accepted our invitation when you had the chance,” says Night, straining against the wing to hold it away from Snow’s body. “Although even I wouldn’t have predicted this kind of end for you. ”

  He nods again to Stripes. The blade whips down and slices off the wing.

  Snow shrieks his fury. The street fills with echoes of his rage and agony.

  Blood sprays everywhere, showering the others. They struggle to hold him down as the blood makes him slick. Snow twists and kicks two of the bullies with lightning speed. They end up rolling on the asphalt, curling around their stomachs. For a moment, as the remaining two angels fight to keep him down, I think he’ll manage to bust loose.

  But Night stomps his boot on Snow’s back, right on the raw wound.

  Snow hisses in a breath filled with pain but does not scream. The others take the opportunity to slink back into position, holding him down.

  Night drops the severed wing. It lands with the thud of a dead animal on the asphalt.

  Snow’s expression is furious. He still has fight in him, but it’s draining fast along with his blood. Blood soaks his skin, mats his hair.

  Night grabs the remaining wing and yanks it open.

  “If it was up to me, I’d let you go,” says Night. There’s enough admiration in his voice to make me suspect he might mean it. “But we all have our orders. ” Despite the admiration, he doesn’t show any regret.

  Stripes’ blade, poised on Snow’s wing joint, catches the moon’s reflection.

  I cringe, expecting another bloody blow. Behind me, the tiniest, sympathetic sound escapes Paige.

  Burnt suddenly tilts his head from behind Night. He looks right at us.

  I freeze, still crouched behind the moving van. My heart skips a beat, then races triple time.

  Burnt gets up and walks away from the carnage.

  Straight towards us.


  My brain clamps shut in fear. The only thing I can think to do is to distract the angel while my mother pushes Paige to safety.


  My mother’s face
freezes wide-eyed in horror. In her panic, she turns and runs off without Paige. She must have assumed I’d push the wheelchair. Paige looks at me with terrified eyes dominating her pixie face.

  She swivels her chair and rolls as fast as she can after Mom. My sister can roll her own chair, but not nearly as fast as someone can push her.

  None of us will make it out alive without a distraction. With no time to consider the pros and cons, I make a split-second decision.

  I sprint out into the open straight toward Burnt.

  I dimly register an outraged roar filled with agony somewhere in the background. The second wing is being cut. It’s probably already too late. But I’m at the place where Snow’s sword lies, and there’s not enough time for me to come up with a new plan.

  I scoop the sword almost from under Burnt’s feet. I grab it with both hands, expecting it to be very heavy. It lifts in my hands, as light as air. I throw it toward Snow.

  “Hey!” I scream at the top of my lungs.

  Burnt ducks, looking as surprised as I feel at the sight of the sword flying overhead. It’s a desperate and poorly thought-out move on my part, especially since the angel is probably bleeding to death right now. But the sword flies much truer than I expect and lands hilt-first right in Snow’s outstretched hand, almost as if it was guided there.

  Without a pause, the wingless angel swings his sword at Night. Despite his overwhelming injuries, he is fast and furious. I can understand why the others had to dramatically outnumber him before cornering him.

  The blade slices through Night’s stomach. His blood gushes out and mixes with the crimson pool already on the road. Stripes leaps to his boss and grabs him before he falls.

  Snow, stumbling to regain his balance without his wings, bleeds rivers down his back. He manages to swing his sword again, laying open Stripes’ leg as he runs off with Night in his arms. But that doesn’t stop them.

  The two others who’d backed off as soon as things got ugly rush to grab Night and Stripes. They pump their powerful wings while running with the injured, leaving a trail of blood dripping to the ground as they take off into the night.

  My distraction is a shocking success. Hope surges in me that maybe my family has found a new hiding place by now.

  Then the world explodes in pain as Burnt backhands me.

  I fly backwards and slam onto the asphalt. My lungs contract so hard I can’t even begin to think about taking a breath. All I can do is curl into a ball, trying to get a sip of air back into my body.

  Burnt turns to Snow who can no longer be called snowy. He hesitates with all his muscles tense as though considering his odds of winning against the injured angel. Snow, wingless and drenched in blood, sways on his feet, barely able to stand. But his sword is steady and pointed at Burnt. Snow’s eyes burn with fury and determination, which is probably all that’s holding him up.

  The bloodied angel must have one hell of a reputation because despite his condition, the perfectly healthy and beefy Burnt slams his sword back into his sheath. He gives me a disgusted glare and takes off. He runs down the street, his wings taking him airborne after half a dozen steps.